Phoenix FC holds on for needed win over Antigua

TEMPE, Ariz. — Phoenix FC got a much-needed victory Friday night, pulling out a 1-0 win over Antigua Barracuda FC thanks to a goal from Diego Faria in the 34th minute and some strong defense.

The Wolves, trying to stay in the hunt for a playoff spot in USL Pro and in need of at least three points in their remaining matches, ended a 12-match winless streak that included five draws. Phoenix FC’s last win came on April 28 in a 3-1 decision against the Wilmington (N.C.) Hammerheads at Sun Devil Soccer Stadium.

Diego’s goal was his third of the season, tying him for the most goals on the team in league play with Donny Toia.  Diego scored on a header, taking a chip pass from Anthony Obodai and sneaking inside the far post for the finish.

It was Phoenix FC’s first lead in a match since May 11 at Dayton and first lead at home since a 1-0 advantage in the first half against Pittsburgh in what turned out to be a 1-1 draw on May 3.

The Wolves had chances to extend the margin, as well. Tommy Ramos had a great look for a diving header in the 18th minute that hit the post and caromed away. And in the 51st minute, Donny Toia tried a shot from distance with his outside foot that missed high. He also missed with a rocket from long range in the 66th minute as the Wolves dominated most of the attacking play.

The 78th minute saw starting goalkeeper Sheldon Parkinson leave the match due to injury; he was replaced by Humberto Soriano.

Soriano, playing in his first match of the season, got tested right away. Barracuda FC midfielder Tamorley Thomas made run and fired a low dribbler on net, with the ball sliding past the far post and out of play in the 80th minute.

Cyprian Hedrick led another strong defensive effort, as the Wolves now have four shutouts in their last five matches.

Toia finished with three shots and Anthony Obodai earned an assist in front of Sun Devil Soccer Stadium crowd of 984.

“The group kept focus, and for this game, we definitely had to respect the opponent,” Diego said via translation from teammate Travis Bowen.  “That’s what helped us win this game. We could have had more goals, but first it starts with one.”

Phoenix FC is now 3-10-6 and has 15 points in the standings. The Wolves host still-winless Antigua again on July 11 at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix at 7:30 p.m.